I participated in VeganMoFo last year, posting food photos on Instagram to correspond with each daily prompt. One of the suggestions was to post a dish that’s close to home, something from your own country, state, or hometown. New Jersey is the land of the diner, and one of the states most beloved diner dishes is disco fries. So I made some disco fries and I posted the photo. The photo was popular, but to my surprise, only my fellow New Jerseyians knew what it was. That makes sense, I guess, because I didn’t know what it was before I moved back to New Jersey as a teenager, either.
Simply put, disco fries are French fries drenched in cheese and gravy. It’s said that they got their name because they were a favorite late-night meal of the disco crowd in the 70s. They’re similar to the Canadian poutine, but they’re made with melted cheese, rather than cheese curds. Disco fries became a favorite of mine during college. I’d work the evening shift at CVS, and after the store closed, my coworkers and I would walk across the street the Land and Sea diner and eat way too much greasy food, before heading home to do homework into the wee hours. (I have no idea how I survived the 90s on so much junk food and so little sleep.)
Disco fries are still a favorite of mine, but I’ve made a much healthier, vegan version, using oven baked fries, cashew cheese, and mushroom gravy. They’re a great late night snack, and they’re also the perfect accompaniment to grilled veggie burgers. To save time, you can make the cheese ahead of time and use packaged frozen French fries. The gravy can also be made ahead of time, and then heated when ready to assemble the dish. If you’re feeling extra lazy, you can use packaged gravy, too. I sometimes make disco fries using Pacific Foods Vegan Mushroom Gravy.
Vegan Disco Fries
For the Oven Fries
- 3 large russet potatoes cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Gravy
- 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
- ½ cup sweet onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 10 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms sliced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
For the Cheese
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for two hours and drained
- 1/2 medium tomato coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic. minched
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons raw sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon mellow white miso
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Make the Fries: Preheat your oven to 450° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the potato wedges in a large bowl.
Whisk together the oil, garlic granules, salt, and pepper, and pour the mixture over the potatoes. Toss to coat the potatoes well.
Place the potato wedges on the parchment paper, making sure none of the pieces overlap.
Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the potato wedges. Bake for another 20 – 25 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp around the edges.
Make the Gravy: Heat the oil in a large pan of medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly brown and softened.
Add the garlic, mushrooms, and sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid, and it all evaporates.
Sprinkle the flour on top of the vegetables and stir for about a minute.
Add the vegetable stock and tamari to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower the heat and allow to simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Make the Cheese: Mix all of the cheese ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. If you’re using a blender, start slow and then build up the speed, otherwise the ingredients might get stuck. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time.
Assemble the Disco Fries: Place the potato wedges in a shallow dish or bowl. Pour the gravy over them, and then drizzle on the cashew cheese. Serve hot.
If you enjoyed this Vegan Disco Fries recipe, you might also like:
- Smashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Cream
- Hasselback Potatoes
- Deviled Purple Potatoes
- Scalloped Potatoes